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Why You Should Add Pumpkin to Your Diet

Halloween is only one week away, meaning there will soon be trick-or-treaters lining the block, and flame-free jack-ó-lanterns to light their way. When you’re carving or etching your pumpkins this year, don’t discard the innards, as they are rich in essential vitamins and minerals. Add pumpkin to your diet this fall instead! Also, rather than tossing your jack-ó-lanterns in the dumpster or leaving them out to be smashed by tricksters at the end of the night, throw them into your compost pile for nutrient rich soil.

Fast Facts on Pumpkins

  • Pumpkins are a member of the gourd family.
  • Pumpkin seeds are also known as “pepitas.”
  • These bright orange plants are low in calories, fat, and sodium.
  • They are good sources of vitamin A, vitamin B, potassium, protein, and iron. Visit the USDA National Nutrient Database for a full nutritional profile.
  • Pumpkin pulp can be used to make all-natural pumpkin puree at home.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin

Pumpkin contains many of the essential nutrients your body needs. Each of these nutrients play a key role in the proper functioning of your cardiovascular, digestive, skeletal, and immune systems. For example, zinc helps the immune system fight bacterial and viral infections, which can prove especially helpful during the flu season. 100 grams of pumpkin can provide you with 0.32 mg of this important nutrient.

How to Add Pumpkin to Your Diet

A quick Google search for “pumpkin recipes” yields 342,000,000 results. With recipes for everything from pumpkin soup to pumpkin pie, there is no shortage of ways to incorporate this highly nutrient-dense food into your diet during the fall, ensuring you reap all the rewards. Here are three recipes we curated from this search.

Pumpkin Spice French Toast Casserole

Recipe courtesy of The Food Network

Grease a 13×9-inch baking dish. Using your favorite bread, slice it into 1/2-inch thick slices, then layer in the baking dish. In a large bowl, combine 1.5 cups of milk, 6 whole eggs and 1 can of pumpkin. Mix well and pour over the bread. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of one hour. Overnight is best. Bake at 350˚F for one hour, or until the custard is puffed and well-set. Serve warm with real maple syrup.

Creamy Pumpkin Pie Spread (Vegan)

Recipe courtesy of One Green Planet

Soak 1 ½ cups cashews and 6 pitted dates in warm water for 20 minutes. Drain water, add to food processor and blend for 60 seconds. Add 1 15-ounce can pumpkin, 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. Blend until smooth, one to two minutes. Enjoy spread on sprouted grain toast or stirred into oatmeal. Serves ten.

Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

Recipe courtesy of Katie Lee

Preheat the oven to 300˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and mist with a nonstick cooking spray. In a small bowl, combine ½ cup lightly packed brown sugar, 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground allspice, ½ teaspoon ground cumin, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy, then stir in the pumpkin seeds. Add the sugar mixture and toss until the seeds are completely coated. Bake until crispy, 20 to 25 minutes. Yields two cups.

Your Neighborhood Health Foods Store

Healthy Habit Health Foods is committed to selling nutritionally sound, environmentally conscious, organic products to support your healthy way of life. Stop by today! We are conveniently located on 7th St. and Bethany Home Rd. Our store hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Make sure to tune into KFNX 1100 each weekday morning from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. for our Healthy House Call Radio Show with hosts Dan Koontz, Nutritionist, and Jaime Boyacheck, Registered Nurse and co-owner of Healthy Habit Health Foods.

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